Lighthouse, Poole

Tonight’s Live & Unheard had been a difficult one to get off the ground for organisers Matt & Mel from Hangover Hill Studio. After already having the line-up confirmed for some time, a few unexpected surprises were thrown their way. Firstly blues/rock act Southern Brotherhood unexpectedly and sadly decided to split up ahead of their confirmed appearance and just this morning headliner DD Allen got a case of the two dreaded red lines, which prevented him from performing. This though is all in a day’s work for the organisers who worked swiftly and using their array of local contacts, got the slots filled with tonight’s headliners booked just this morning.

First to take to the stage is a duo of Rich’s from North Dorset who go by the name of Rich Atkinson & the New Billionaires. They describe themselves as Narrative Americana with a vocal style of Tom Waits, along with the acoustic side of Springsteen and a slice of jazz influence too. Rich Atkinson is primarily a wonderful lyricist who really digs deep inside of each song to give the listener an individual experience with each of his compositions. He is also a huge music fan who’s list of influences are completely numerous and sometimes quite random. Along with his side-kick Richard Quintin on Tenor saxophone the audience is treated to some unique storytelling put to some creative music.

Rich Atkinson And The New Billionaires
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Opening number “Sister Stay Away” is a warning from the future to legendary American singer-songwriter Janis Joplin; while “Key to Life” takes you onto a place with a Disney-type vibe, think Jungle Book styles. The audience intently listens to the smooth tunes that the band has to offer, only breaking their silence at the end of each number to enthusiastically applaud. “Beauty in Ruins” takes us to the formerly majestic buildings of Detroit, while “Is it Raining,” tells of a broken love that can’t be forgotten. The set ends on the enchanting “A Postcard from the Ocean” with some haunting nautical Sax, along with more of Rich’s lovely wholesome vocal style, the lyrics telling the story of a guy who steps out and fulfils his dream of living beside the ocean. A thrilling start to the evening and one thoroughly enjoyed by the whole audience.

The second act tonight is “State of Undress”; a folk trio who have been treading the boards for quite a while now, with songs that mainly take inspiration from local heritage. The band tonight comprises of husband and wife team Charlie (Vocals) & Alan Rose (Guitar & Vocals), along with Mick St Michael on ukulele bass. They start with their lockdown tune “Strange Times”; before taking a brief diversion over to the Isle of Purbeck via “My Lady of Corfe”, about Lady Mary Bankes who defended Corfe Castle during a bloody civil war that saw the castle turned into ruins. Charlie’s fast-paced folk delivery really brings the history to life. “Last of the Ferrymen” tells of the Mudeford ferryman ‘Black Mike’ and the area’s smuggling history with Alan taking a turn at lead vocal. One of the highlights of their set is a track called “A Million Memories”; a beautifully emotional song from the point of view of a pensioner in a care home, you cannot help but be moved by the touching way Charlie delivers and the tear-jerking line “In my heart I’m 21, loving you all night long”.

State Of Undress
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Though very different from the first act, the audience are once again fully captivated with all that is on offer. These guys are experienced in entertaining audiences on a variety of different stages and even a few technical issues does not divert from the pure enjoyment that they give. Their soon to be released new single “If You Can Walk You Can Dance” creates some enthusiastic audience participation, before a cover of their son’s (Ben Rose) “How about Tonight” shows there is certainly a vein of musicality from the Rose family. (Their other son Josh is the drummer for the hugely popular rock band “Saints of Sin”). A really enjoyable 40 minute set full of this trio’s wonderful creativity and I hope this Summer allows them to get out there entertaining the masses once again, doing what they love.

When the three members of tonight’s headline band “The Ruby Welts” woke up this morning, they did not know that they were playing this gig at the Lighthouse tonight. After a few frantic phone calls and a brief rehearsal beforehand the band appear before us to take the place of the Covid-affected DD Allen. “The Ruby Welts” feature Jazz Wrann on vocals/acoustic guitar, Lou Sawdy on Cajón, and Si Genaro on Harmonica/Guitar/Vocals. Now, this event is usually a place to showcase original material, however tonight for this band the rules have been loosened and the band kick off with a great version of “Chocolate Jesus” by Tom Waits. The three-piece play regularly together and there is certainly plenty of chemistry and lots of hilarious stage banter. Each member takes their own place in the spotlight with Jazz starting off showing off her impressive vocal skills on Foy Vance’s “Riptide”, Ellie King’s “Ex’s & Oh’s” and a catchy sing-a-long original called “Let It Go”.

The Ruby Welts
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Cajón player Lou then takes over on guitar with a couple of her original numbers and shows everyone that she is certainly no one-trick pony, with a huge vocal presence and a couple of well put together tunes where she earns plenty of respect from the thrilled audience. Si Genaro’s contribution came from a campfire called “If You Go” and a stunning emotional new tune called “Rowing” that silenced the whole audience with a staggering performance. This time there was no clowning around from Si, he shows his serious side and his wonderful passion for his musical creativity. How could you follow this, time just flew by during their set, and the curfew spelled the end of their time on stage. The audience give the band a well-deserved standing ovation for a great last-minute set that will go down as one of the best in Live & Unheard history.

Set Lists
Rich Atkinson & the New Billionaires
Sister Stay Away
Will You Walk Me
Key to Life
Beauty in Ruins
Let’s Fall in Love
Nobody Ever Dreams
Is It Raining
Crazy Train
Love is Beautiful
A Postcard From The Ocean

State of Undress
Strange Times
My Lady of Corfe
Last of the Ferrymen
A Million Memories
If You Can Walk You Can Dance
Goin’ Straight
How About Tonight
Trouble and Strife
The Keys of Canterbury

The Ruby Welts
Chocolate Jesus (Tom Waits)
Riptide (Foy Vance)
Ex’s & Oh’s (Ellie King)
If You Go
Broken Promises
Mercy (Duffy)
Let It Go
Upside Down (Paloma Faith)
Love Cats (The Cure)


Next month Live & Unheard returns to the Lighthouse featuring Soulhole + The Samurais + Nory-J, purchase your tickets here.


Words by David Chinery
Pictures by Lynn Bert.